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Dungeonmaster's Girlfriend

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Don't mess with Vin Diesel...

"If you kill another one of my friends, I'll divorce you."
Lindsay (Feylin Hilltopple), RPGMP3

"Dungeonmaster's Girlfriend" is a term used in Tabletop RPG circles for a player — often literally the DM's significant other, sometimes a younger family member — who is getting special treatment from the Game Master due to an out-of-game personal relationship, specifically because the GM either wants to curry favor with them or is afraid of incurring their ire. This is often at the expense of other players, who showed up at the table to participate equally, but have somehow ended up playing sidekicks to the Dungeonmaster's Girlfriend.

This trope is much older than (and not limited to) gaming situations, though. Before there were RPGs, it was a situation that would arise in theater, film, and TV — the director would give his girlfriend a large or important role, or a producer would insist that his current girlfriend be given a part as a condition for his backing. In most cases, she is not competent enough to handle a major role; in some, she's not competent at all.

This is not a trope about someone that does something only because their significant other is doing it, though the situations do often overlap (sometimes the favoritism is in place to go easy on this new player). Also the “dungeon” in this instance is a tabletop game, not that kind of dungeon.

In case of roleplay, the boyfriend/girlfriend or sibling might actually have an advantage by knowing the DM better than the other players without any favoritism coming into play.

Compare Nepotism and Sleeping Their Way to the Top. This person may be regarded as something of a Yoko Oh No, especially in the case of film and music, and also may result in the Love Makes You Uncreative trope being invoked.



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    Comic Books 
  • The original Runaways series offers a dark in-universe example of this trope: Alex deliberately manipulates the team's adventures so that he and his crush Nico will survive the endgame - in which the Gibborim kill all but six of the Earth's inhabitants.
  • Invoked in one of Gotlibs series satirizing movies in which the director casts his son as the star and his wife is a technical advisor (she advised he star their son, technically he couldn't refuse).

    Fan Works 
  • In the Chick Tracts fanfic Whatever Happened to Elfstar?, Debbie is a platonic version to Gina. Whereas Gina rigs the game so Marcie's character Black Star will die (and is indicated to have done this to Marcie's other characters), Marcie points out that "this never happens to Debbie". Gina does this specifically to drive Marcie away from Debbie, whom she wants for herself.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Sing 2, the theater owner forces Buster to cast his spoiled-brat daughter in the lead role, demoting Rosita (for whom the role was written) to a minor part. While she's a good singer, she's a terrible actress and is clearly unsuited for the part. After some Character Development, she takes the singing-only bit part and totally nails it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Godfather Part III had Francis Ford Coppola's daughter Sofia play Michael Corleone's daughter Mary. It didn't go well (fortunately, she became a quite talented director in her own right instead of pursuing a career in acting). Some have also said casting Talia Shire, Coppola's sister, as Connie Corleone in the first film, counts; on the other hand, Ms. Shire did earn Oscar nominations for her portrayal of the same character in Part II and for her work on Rocky.
  • The Rocketeer used it in-universe. Jenny has a bit part in The Laughing Bandit, a new Neville Sinclair movie, and complains to some extras that the (very hammy) leading lady only got the job because she's the producer's niece.
    Irma: Boy oh boy, is she a block of wood. Y'know, your audition was so much better.
    Jenny: Irma, everybody's audition was better. Does it matter when you're the producer's niece?
    Irma: So she gets to play a scene with Neville Sinclair and we play scenery. I love Hollywood...
  • Helen Chadwick's classic role as the interfering lead singer's girlfriend in This is Spın̈al Tap. This has to be the portmanteau example of every famous time a band member's girlfriend has interfered in the band...
  • This even comes up in Citizen Kane. Kane funds an elaborate opera show for the sole purpose of casting his girlfriend in the lead role.
  • Rob Zombie has cast his wife as a main character in each of his movies.
  • Similarly, Paul W.S. Anderson has his wife Milla Jovovich star in the Resident Evil Film Series. The two first met during filming of the first film and were an on-and-off couple by the second, before finally marrying during filming of the fourth. Perhaps not incidentally, in a series based on games where highly-trained and talented but ultimately normal people regularly take on zombies and mutant creatures, Jovovich's character ends up showing them all up with abilities such as telekinesis, super strength, replication, and a Healing Factor, beyond anything even the most overpowered characters of the games display. Disgruntled fans have likened it to marrying your own Original Character and making Fan Fiction movies about her.
  • Inverted in A Chorus Line where the ex-girlfriend of the director is at auditions applying for one of the roles in the show because she wants to work as a dancer and nobody will hire her, saying she's too good. He realizes she really is much more talented than he was thinking she is and gives her one of the parts. He kids her by saying that he guesses she'll have to sleep with him again to keep the part.
  • Hot Fuzz has this with Martin Blower, the director (and star) of the small-town's production of Romeo and Juliet, where his girlfriend Eve Draper is cast in the other lead role, despite the vast difference in ages between them and the fact she can't act. This gets them murdered.
  • Orson Welles and Ed Wood commiserate over this, among other trials of the independent filmmaker, in a (sadly, probably apocryphal) classic scene from Ed Wood.
  • Kirk Cameron, from religious conviction, refuses to kiss any woman who is not his wife. As a result, in order to finish Fireproof, the producers had to bring in his wife as a "kissing double."

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The Big Bang Theory the guys plan on having a no-girlfriends weekend gaming marathon but Howard's fiancée Bernadette ends up tagging along. She's a useless addition to their fighting party, saying "pew, pew" instead of actually hitting the keys to shoot and concentrating solely on healing her fiancée's character (when she's supposed to be the group healer). But of course, they all put up with it and don't kick the both of them out because well, for one thing it'd be mean (and she meant well). Oddly enough it's mostly averted by Penny; when she bothers to join in on Halo Night she's actually a kick-ass gamer in her own right, partly because her rural upbringing gave her plenty of experience with guns.
  • Cheers: Through the Diane years, she's shown to be lazy and generally incompetent as a waitress, but gets preferential treatment because of her relationship with Sam. Of course, there's also the problem that Diane refuses to be fired.
  • In one episode of The Red Skelton Show, Clem Kadiddlehopper strikes oil. Using his newfound riches, he acquires a television station putting on a talent show, which he insists his girlfriend Daisy will be the winner of even though she was not planned to be a contestant. The producers of the show walk forcing Clem to try to run the thing himself.
  • It's All Relative: Philip and Simon are confused and annoyed by Mason's "house rules" in a family vs family monopoly match. One such rule was when Liz drew the '2nd Prize in a beauty contest' card, Audrey (Mason's wife) was also given a prize amount. The explanation being that by-extension, Audrey must have won first prize

  • One very early Dragon magazine short story (by Roger Moore... no, not him) used this trope in-character when a tavern full of male adventurers were bragging of their power, achievements, and connections to still-greater beings. A woman at a private table kept snickering at their boasts until they got fed up and confronted her with sexist remarks. She sneered at their petty claims, threw back her cloak to expose her magnificent armor, weapons, and other bling, and proclaimed: "My husband is the Dungeon Master." The boasters all looked up, anticipating a vengeful bolt from the blue, then very quickly evacuated the tavern when they realized no such retribution was coming.
  • Christine in Maskerade got the lead part in the opera performance despite having zero singing ability due to being the daughter of the opera's main sponsor. Fortunately, they got Agnes to cover her singing.
  • In Binder of Shame, the story arc Never Leave Your Nads Behind is a homebrew RPG set up so that Asenath (a woman who is very pretty except for a stunted arm), who was Deviant Boy's girlfriend at the time, can Mary Sue some alien slavers to death. The other players get turned into a pet baby (Psycho Dave), a hairless castrato (Weasley Crusher), and a trophy wife (Ab3), and have to hold out for her to come save them. Luckily, The Amazing Boozehound gets drunk and goes on a one-man LARP session, inadvertently getting the police to save them from it.

  • Inverted in the sequel to the famous Dead Alewives' Dungeons & Dragons sketch. One of the players brings his girlfriend and the DM treats her very passive-aggressively, allowing her to play but not explaining the rules or what's going on in the session, then places her character in a concrete room with no exits. The character has a spell that can be used to escape, but the player isn't informed of this and leaves in a huff to the DM's evident satisfaction.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Unbelievable Truth, where both host David Mitchell and first-time panellist Victoria Coren-Mitchell pretended she was expecting this treatment. She finished third, complaining that she was told going against Henning Wehn would be easy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Built into the rules of the D20 version of Munchkin is a feat called "Shagging the DM". It has only one prerequisite, and it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It allows you to reroll one roll every 30 minutes. The feat's description also points out that if you qualify for it, you probably don't need it.
  • A shorthand for this trope sometimes used in the RPG community is "having a Ring of DM Control."

    Web Comics 
  • The Princess in Rusty and Co. claims to have this "VERY obscure and VERY powerful prestige class", which may explain her ability to save herself.
  • Throughout Heroes of Lesser Earth, the character known as Freya is given special treatment due to being the Dungeon Master's Girlfriend, most notably in the comic entitled Preferential Treatment.
  • Gabe of Penny Arcade gives this to Vin Diesel, not because of a relationship, but because he is abjectly terrified of Vin Diesel.
    Gabe: The skeleton lashes out at you, Vin, for... [Vin glares] damage! He missed! Again. And then... he died. So you get a million XP. And all the gold. And you win the whole game, forever.
  • In Darths & Droids, when Ben's sister Sally is first brought in, she kinda gets this treatment, with the DM having to accede to her alterations to his game to keep her from crying. It helps that the players consider her ideas cooler than his.
  • Something*Positive mentions the theatre version of this as happening with more than a few of the frustrating and failed productions the cast took part in during their tenure in the Boston theatre scene.
    • Another strip has Davan afraid he hurt his relationship with Vanessa by averting this when her character died in a Halloween game, followed by her going quiet and excusing herself to the bathroom. Of course she's not happy her character died but she'd actually made herself sick on candy and had to hurry off to vomit.
      Don: You let girlfriends win, Davan! Girlfriends are Wookiees who'll show you their boobs!

    Web Original 
  • Variation with Asenath Summerisle in The Binder of Shame; she's introduced as Deviant Boy's girlfriend while he's running a game. She herself is an okay gamer and ends up getting along fine with the guys, but he warps the entire game to revolve around her character; "She got to play hero while the rest of us swam through raw sewage being chased by vaguely alien sex slavers."
  • Nicely averted in Critical Role — Matt treats his fiancée/wife Marisha the same as any other player during sessions; a perfect example being the time she used Wind Walk on at least half the party without realising this would prevent them from attacking or defending themselves at all. Matt's only response: "You should have read the spell." Sadly, Marisha receives a fair amount of bullying from certain members of the fanbase who can't see past their preconceived notions of the "DM's girlfriend" archetype and backlash against her simply because she fits the literal description. Her defenders in the fandom point to examples (like the use of Wind Walk and other moments in the early episodes) as times when Matt was, if anything, more strict with her than other players about playing exactly by the rules and disallowing attempts at creative, but off-book, uses of her character's abilities or spells.
  • A Reddit thread considering The Lord of the Rings as a Role-Playing Game 'Verse posits the theory that "Boromir was killed not as a plot device, but because he was getting too close to the DM's girlfriend," who was obviously playing Frodo.
  • This happens when the Game Grumps, along with a lot of their friends like Markiplier and Jacksepticeye come together to play Among Us. Arin learns that his wife Suzy is one of the Imposters and keeps it a secret, basically letting her run wild for the remainder of the match, and it inevitably costs the Crewmates the game and lets both Impostors win when the voters vote off Dooger instead. The other Crewmates are not amused when they learn about this.
    Ross: Arin you fucking simp!

    Western Animation 
  • The Venture Brothers: "Past Tense" managed to use this trope without the girlfriend even participating. In a college flashback, several characters are playing D&D and encounter a "Leslie golem", an invincible monster that looks exactly like the DM's crush Leslie Cohen. Rusty turns the tables by seducing it, causing the DM to hold a grudge for the rest of his life.
    Rusty: You're gonna kill me because I had fake sex on graph paper with a girl who barely spoke to you in real life?

Alternative Title(s): Directors Girlfriend